“That was the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard”
Of all the superheroes who have problems juggling a “real life” and their alter ego Green Lanterns always seem to have it the toughest. With a jurisdiction that covers the expanse of space you can pretty much guarantee that any given moment you’re going to get a call that needs your attention. Hal Jordan has had this problem since 1959 and now it’s Jessica Cruz’s and Simon Baz’s turns to see just how hard it is in the finale of “Work Release”, Tim Seeley’s first arc on Green Lanterns.
Like last issue, Green Lanterns #34 sees Seeley shifting the scenes between the rescue of the Molites and Earth and just as Simon and Jessica are facing triumph in space they are facing defeat back on Terra Firma with neither one of them able to land a job. As Seeley closes this arc he also plants seeds for the future of the book, most notably in establishing a new threat in Kesh Cur, an Ungaran who seems to have a thing against off-worlders and his sights set on framing the Green Lanterns in order to promote his agenda. The conclusion also establishes the Ungaran musical sensation Liseth up as a romantic interest for Simon Baz and the beginnings of strange happenings with the artificial intelligence in Jessica’s power ring.
There’s a lot happening in this issue which is a welcome change of pace for the series and I appreciate when a creator shows signs of some real forethought in where they are going with a series. I don’t think that was a particular strong suit for Sam Humphries and in that regard it shows an improvement in the title by the change in writers.
Not that Seeley doesn’t have some problem here, because there are several. My main criticism of this issue lies with Simon Baz’s healing ability. Back when Simon healed Nazir it felt like something very special as Geoff Johns used their relationship as the catalyst for why Simon was able to do something above and beyond what a Green Lantern is supposed to be able to accomplish with a power ring. This time around Simon heals Lisbeth with only a shared story providing him with the inspiration he needs to bring her back from near death, completely healed. Sure Simon has some of the steam taken out of him but the fact that he can pull it off on demand like this cheapens what should be a rarely feat. Combined with “Emerald Sight” these kinds of special abilities that lack definition in origin only serve to undermine the character and I do hope that Seeley takes the time to give us something that explains it all.
The other part that bothered me was the assertion that back on Earth Simon and Jessica are nothing more than “two brown people with bad resumes”. I’m not sure why Seeley focuses on their skin color but it seems like a comment written in poor taste as neither Jessica or Simon were turned down for either of those reasons and it comes off like Seeley is trying to make a social statement where there’s none to be had. Both Simon and Jessica do indeed have reasons which send red flags up with most potential employers the color of their skin isn’t one of them.
The issue ends with the setup for the next chapter and the return of Bolphunga. We last saw Mr. Unrelenting in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #24 and his appearance here is a little surprising considering where we left off with him. With Bolphunga last seen serving time in a sciencell on Mogo I’m not sure who that lines up with his arrival on Earth. Maybe Seeley will provide us with some connective narrative that ties it together for us, but if not it’s another example of the lack of continuity between both Green Lantern books which is disheartening to see.
Ronan Cliquet and the art team do a good job this issue and there’s really not much to add to that. It’s good to see the series establish a norm for itself visually and the book benefits from it.
Green Lanterns #34 has a lot going on as Tim Seeley sets up several interesting plot threads for the weeks ahead. Unfortunately as a story itself “Work Release” isn’t a very interesting read in and of itself. The issue has a few problems which kept me from enjoying it and in the end I give it six out of ten lanterns.